The Stanley Cup Playoffs are poised to begin in less than two weeks, but even the teams that will be concentrating on the two-month run to the sport's Holy Grail also have an eye on the draft that will be held June 22 and 23 in Dallas.
The Buffalo Sabres are in line for the top pick in the draft, and even though they were able to select Jack Eichel in 2015, they have not been able to turn their fortunes around.
However, with Eichel starting to come into his own, and the Sabres getting a chance to select defenseman Rasmus Dahlin this year, they may finally be able to become a competitive team once again.
Dahlin is the top player in this year's draft, and it's not much of a contest. He has been playing with Frolunda in Sweden and has already showed off his immense talent. If he is not intimidated by the prospect of playing in the NHL, he could turn out to be a big star right from the start.
Projected Draft Order and Mock Draft
1. Buffalo Sabres: D Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda (SHL)
2. Arizona Coyotes: LW Filip Zadina, Halifax (QMJHL)
3. Ottawa Senators: RW Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie (OHL)
4. Vancouver Canucks: LW Brady Tkachuk, Boston University
4. Detroit Red Wings: C Oliver Wahlstrom, US Under 18
6. Montreal Canadiens: D Evan Bouchard, London (OHL)
7. Chicago Blackhawks: C Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
8. New York Islanders: D Bode Wilde, US Under 18
9. Edmonton Oilers: D Noah Dobson, A-Bathurst (QMJHL)
10. New York Rangers: C Joe Veleno, Drummondville (QMJHL)
11. Carolina Hurricanes: D Ty Smith, Spokane (WHL)
12. New York Islanders (Traded from Calgary Flames): D Ryan Merkley, Guelph (OHL)
13. Dallas Stars: RW Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Assat Pori (SM-liiga)
14. Florida Panthers: D Adam Boqvist, Brynas (SHL)
15. Los Angeles Kings: D Jared McIsaac, Halifax (QMJHL)
16. New Jersey Devils: RW Serron Noel, Oshawa, (OHL)
17. Philadelphia Flyers (Traded from St. Louis Blues): D Quinton Hughes, US Under 18
18. Columbus Blue Jackets: LW Joel Farabee, USNTDP (USHL)
19. Colorado Avalanche: C Ryan McLeod, Mississauga (OHL)
20. Ottawa Senators (Traded from Pittsburgh Penguins): LW Grigori Denisenko, Yaroslavl (KHL)
21. Anaheim Ducks: C Rasmus Kupari, Karpat Oulu (SM-liiga)
22. Philadelphia Flyers: Rasmus Sandin, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
23. Minnesota Wild: C Jeff McBain, Toronto Jr. (CCHL)
24. San Jose Sharks: D Alexander Alexeyev, Red Deer (WHL)
25. Toronto Maple Leafs: C Akil Thomas, Niagara (OHL)
26. St. Louis Blues (Traded from Winnipeg Jets): RW Dominik Bonn, Vaxjo (SHL)
27. New York Rangers (Traded from Boston Bruins): D Jonathan Tychonick, Penticton (BCHL)
28. Washington Capitals: D Jett Woo, Moose Jaw (WHL)
29. Detroit Red Wings (Traded from Vegas Golden Knights): D Calen Addison (WHL)
30. New York Rangers (Traded from Tampa Bay Lightning): C Isac Lundestrom, Lulea HF (SHL)
31. Chicago Blackhawks (Traded from Nashville Predators): C Jacob Olofsson, Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
Draft order courtesy of Tankathon.com. Order complete following games of March 27.
D Rasmus Dahlin
Dahlin has the size at 6'1" and 184 pounds to handle playing against the bigger players in the NHL, and he also has excellent skating speed, agility and tremendous know-how with the puck.
He is very solid on the defensive end, but it is his creativity with the puck that makes him such a notable prospect. He also has great confidence, and that shows by the chances he will take in the offensive zone.
He will make some mistakes that lead to opportunities at the opposite end, but he has an excellent success ratio and there is little doubt that he can take on the role of a No. 1 defenseman in the NHL.
The key at the next level will be to make sure Dahlin learns to limit his mistakes without losing his aggressiveness. If his coaches can help him take that step, he has every chance of developing into an elite defenseman.
C-RW Oliver Wahlstrom
Wahlstrom is a smart player with excellent instincts who has a chance to play effectively in the NHL once he decides to join the league. He will be enrolling at Harvard in the fall, and he could be ready to move on after one or two years.
He has excellent puck skills and he can make the first defender miss with regularity. In addition to making plays with the puck, he is also an excellent passer and can set up his teammates with plays that other forwards won't see with as much frequency.
Wahlstrom scored 82 points (40 goals and 42 assists) with the U.S. under-18 team this year.
D Bode Wilde
Wilde is big and strong, and he will use his size to establish his presence in the defensive zone and challenge opposing offensive players who try to make plays in his area.
At 6'2" and 194 pounds, he is already quite formidable, and he is likely to add more weight and strength to his frame. He has the ability to stand players up with his hitting ability, and he skates well enough to carry the puck and make offensive plays.
Wilde also has a bomb of a slap shot, and that's going to be a big advantage when he is manning the point on the power play.
Wilde is going to hone his skills at the University of Michigan. He has scored 36 points for the U.S. under-18 team this year, and he also had 59 penalty minutes.